Darren Schwartz ’89 always believed he would end up in a ministry role. He majored in religion at Colorado College, and worked for his church before becoming a counselor.
But his most recent career move surprised him. “I signed up for the Army almost three years ago, at the age of 41. I just felt a calling from the Lord to be in military ministry.”
Darren is an ordained Southern Baptist minister and has a master’s degree in counseling.
As an Army chaplain, he reports to a battalion commander “and I serve the religious and emotional needs of a military intelligence battalion of almost 300 soldiers.”
Darren is stationed in Phoenix, Ariz., where his chaplain role entails a weekend drill once a month and two weeks every summer.
He counsels soldiers, leads chapel worship services, gives presentations on various topics including suicide prevention, and practices what he calls “the ministry of presence — which means I get paid to have coffee with soldiers.”
Before his work in Phoenix, Darren was deployed, spending a year away from his family. He was stationed on Bagram Airfield, 30 miles north of Kabul, the capital city of Afghanistan. “I spent quite a bit of time traveling to see my soldiers at other locations, so I logged many hours in helicopters.”
“I got to see many interesting things, meet interesting people (including a few locals), and saw a ruggedly beautiful part of the world.” His job in Afghanistan “was the same as it is here,” he says. “I counseled soldiers, led chapel services, attended meetings, exercised (dropped 15 pounds over the year!), and generally spent time with service members.”
Darren says it was a good year in many ways, but being awayfrom his family was challenging.
“I went through several difficult experiences while there, including the loss of my father from cancer and mother-in-law from Alzheimer’s. I came home twice for funerals.”
He says he is enjoying the role of chaplain. “I might one day move into the realm of hospital chaplaincy, if that’s where God leads. But who knows?”